Zodiac Killer: Communications - Cryptograms, Ciphers, And Letters
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The Zodiac Symbol
The murders began in 1968. The killer then boldly communicated to the police and media on more than two dozen occasions through phone calls and taunting letters. Every letter was signed with the astrological symbol of the Zodiac. His signature chillingly mimics the circle with crosshairs seen when looking through a high-powered rifle's scope.
The symbol used by the Zodiac Killer
On July 4, 1969, seven months after his first slaying, the Zodiac struck a second time. Following the attack, the killer called Vallejo Police Department from a payphone, just blocks away from the station, to inform them of the crime.
He then sent a letter to three local newspapers. Included in the letters were secret messages that were coded in a cipher. Each newspaper received only a third of the cryptogram.
Cryptogram sent to San Francisco Examiner on July 31, 1969
Letter sent to San Francisco Chronicle on July 31, 1969
One week later, a high school history teacher solved the puzzle. It stated: "I like killing people because it is so much fun. It is more fun than killing wild game in the forest because man is the most dangerous animal. To kill something gives me the most thrilling experience. It is even better than getting your rocks off with a girl. The best part is that when I die, I will be reborn in paradise and all that I have killed will become my slaves. I will not give you my name because you will try to slow down or stop my collecting of slaves for my afterlife."
On September 27, 1969, a young couple drove their car to Lake Berryessa, and relaxed on a blanket near the shore. A man wearing a dark navy jacket and a dark mask over his face approached the couple. The symbol of a circle with a cross in the middle of it was stitched at the bottom of the mask. The killer stabbed both victims, killing the female and critically wounding the male. When the police investigated the scene, they discovered an inscription on the side of the victims' car door. It revealed the dates of the past three attacks that he had committed. Police also found a size 10 ½ Wing Walker shoe print.
The Zodiac inscribes his victim's car door
On October 11, 1969, police found a Paul Stine, cab driver, who had been shot and killed, lying on the seat of his car with the passenger door open. The murderer had torn off a portion of the victim's bloody shirt. Two days later, a newspaper received a letter from the Zodiac, in which he claimed responsibility for the murder, and enclosed a scrap of Paul Stine's blood-stained shirt. This was the Zodiac's last confirmed murder.
Investigator examines victim's shirt
On April 20, 1970, the Zodiac sent the police a diagram of a bomb he said he would use to kill people. At the bottom of the diagram, he taunted the police for not catching him, creating a "scoreboard" between himself and the San Francisco Police Department.
The Zodiac's drawing of a threatening bomb
The postcard below was sent to The San Francisco Chronicle on April 28, 1970. A Dragon is illustrated on the front, warning of a "big blast". Zodiac tells the paper that the blast will not occur so long as they print a story telling the details about his plan to blow up a school bus full of children. The paper did not comply.
The Zodiac demands the paper print his story
On October 27, 1970, San Francisco Chronicle journalist, Paul Avery, received a Halloween card, shown below. The Zodiac illustrated and described methods by which he supposedly killed his victims. He claims that his number of victims was now 14, referring to his victims as "slaves".
Front of Halloween card mailed to Paul Avery
The Zodiac claimed to have killed 14 victims
Never Really Gone
The last proven authentic letter from the Zodiac arrived at The Chronicle on April 24, 1978. The killer wrote to inform the Bay Area that he was back and that he was never really gone. He said that he was waiting for a good movie to come out about him and he wondered who will be lucky enough to play the part of Zodiac. His note finished with this line: "I am now in control over all things." He signed the letter with the Zodiac symbol and a score that read: SFPD = 0, Zodiac = guess. No picture of the letter has been released.
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